Sunday I rolled to the Gulf Coast YMCA branch. The water was deliciously warm at 85°. I neglected to bring my flippers, so only swam 8 lengths in my allotted time, but that's why I exercise to time, not distance.
The pool may be filled with filtered sea water: it's certainly soft enough.
I streamed the first half hour of the final Sherlock to my massive disappointment. As always, plaidadder nails it
I think that I may fairly make two postulata:
- 1) Whatever about series 5, this episode was designed to be the last episode of Sherlock that Moffat and Gatiss would make.
- 2) It should be.
We walked over Mississippi Sound on the 2 mile bridge connecting Biloxi and Ocean Springs. The view, the sun, the breeze, were exhilarating. My traditional direct attention to the water photo memorializes one stop:( Sitting on the walkway, framed by intense blue sky, woman in powerchair points to Mississippi Sound )
Home to nap, and finish The Final Problem. Wow, that was terrible. (As with most Sherlock canon, there were a handful of wonderful moments, but...thank god for fanfic. I heartily recommend all of plaidadder's.)
We then drove back to Biloxi to assess what was where. The beachside road is furnished with a wide array of architecture: brick Waffle Houses; massive casinos; 1940s apartment buildings; humble 900 sq ft shotgun houses, Frank Gehry's typically bizarre Ohr-O'Keefe Museum, and the Biloxi Visitor's Center, a majestic three-story former mansion.
In my brief time here, I've seen scores of historical markers, displays, websites, pamphlets. Based solely on the ones I've seen, the only people on the Gulf Coast have been the immigrant waves of French, English, Spanish, and "Americans." Africans aren't mentioned anywhere. This is what it looks like to be written out of the narrative.
The third Monday in January has officially been "Robert E Lee's Birthday" in Mississippi, until this year. Twitter shaming played a part in the Biloxi City Council voting unanimously to bring the holiday in line with the Federal designation of Martin Luther King's Birthday.
We finished our day with a promising but ultimately dull meal at Mosaic. MyGuy liked his pulled-pork quesadilla. My ceviche & rice-stuffed portobello was tasty, but not enough to write home about, although I seem to have done so.
Time to swim!
( click for horrible details )
Here's an outstanding example of organizing through community service:
Tell me about more effective service projects, which also increase community awareness of political issues.
Almost every wheelchair user is admonished to "drink plenty of fluids." But as ( Cupholders break. Here's one that doesn't )
begin quote There is no tone calm enough to express uncomfortable truths to someone with the power to refuse to hear. quote endsIt's the kind of direct discourse useful for any adult.
Race, Real Estate, and the Exploitation of Black Urban America
( If you only read one book this year... )
I strongly urge any white person interested in becoming a better ally to African-Americans to read Family Properties.
How the Obama Administration Talks to Black America
"Convenient race-talk" from a president who ought to know better at The Atlantic
begin quote But I also think that some day historians will pore over his many speeches to black audiences. They will see a president who sought to hold black people accountable for their communities, but was disdainful of those who looked at him and sought the same. And then they will match that rhetoric of individual responsibility with the aggression the administration showed to bail out the banks, and the timidity they showed in addressing a foreclosure crisis which devastated black America (again.) And they will match the rhetoric with an administration whose efforts against housing segregation have been run of the mill. And they will match the talk of the importance of black fathers with the paradox of a president who smoked marijuana in his youth but continued a drug-war which daily wrecks the lives of black men. I think those historians will see a discomfiting pattern of convenient race-talk. quote ends
The Need to Grieve by Leigh Patel
Patel points out how very difficult grieving is for humans, and how we latch on to other activities as substitutes. Some are harmless — exercise, making a table for friends — and some are vicious — blaming the nearest demonized group.
Patel points a way forward, but one needs the whole thesis (short) to understand. So, go read it
(and if you'd like to add Racialicious's curated daily essays to your DreamWidth reading, visit http://racialicious-feed.dreamwidth.
Very weird things + snark. For when your day job is getting you down and the room is sound-proofed.
begin quote [photo eliminated by JK to ensure WSity] It’s a plastic gun, shaped like a naked woman, but instead of a head she has an enormous erect penis, and it’s full of butane and you use it to light a cigarette.
I was hoping the customer reviews would say that if you flip it over, it vomits diarrhea and yells “TOUCH MY BUTT” through a little speaker, but no, it’s just two different guys who bought it and were surprised that it didn’t work. quote ends
The Museum of Ridiculously Interesting Things blog
Centuries of art exploring the monstrous human, respectful discussion, utter WTFery, and as kestrel says, fodder for a thousand SF stories.
begin quote In the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, the preserved skins of exotic animals from faraway lands were brought back to Europe by explorers. The hides would be handed over to taxidermists whose job it was to prepare them for display by stuffing the skins and giving them a life-like appearance. However, the taxidermists often just had to guess at the shape and appearance of these unfamiliar animals based on crude sketches and descriptions, resulting in grotesque physical distortions which would appear unsettling to the modern eye. (See this article on bad taxidermy on the fantastic Ravishing Beasts blog).
James Lomax’s Untitled [Me and My Friend] (2011) disturbs and captivates me in the same way that this kind of grotesque taxidermy does. Created as a haunting tribute to a close friend who passed away in tragic circumstances, the work is comprised of two latex casts of the artist’s body. The perpetually distorted figures inflate and deflate at random intervals, giving them an unpredictable life and death cycle accompanied by the menacing mechanical scream of the inflation device. Like the distorted animal skins, James’ deflated bodies are re-animated into bizarre caricatures of their former selves, reshaped into an uncomfortable state between living and dead. quote ends
I was about to research a third great link, but sasha_feather told me I don't need three so I'm posting now. (Also told me I didn't need a cut so I'm not editing to add one.) We have tons of fun on my couch when we're writing Serious Essays.
ETA: Here's that third great link because it's so good:
Frustrations of an Asian-American Whedonite by Michael Le at Racialicious. He got up at SDCC and asked Joss Whedon the question so many of us have wondered about:
begin quote One of the things I loved about Firefly was the exploration of the fusion of Asian and American cultures. Many Asian Americans go through a similar journey. I was wondering, if you were to explore that again in the future, if you would be willing to include Asian or Asian American performers? quote ends
Gee whiz, they even had a deaf programmer write the blog entry. Things are good, right?
Watch this Bill Moyers interview with David Simon on YouTube. It's got captions. They're automagically generated with voice recognition. Compare the audio tracks and the caption track and be stunned at the high level of errors. Notice that White speakers' words are around 80% correct and Black speakers' words more like 30% correct.
Yes, it takes time to make good on technology's promise. In the meantime, disabled people put up with sub-standard services—and often at premium prices. When they're perfected, they'll be generally available.
These bad captions are particularly frustrating because the original sources were already captioned! Since the 1980s all network PBS (US public television) has been captioned; the same has been true for all HBO (paid US cable network) productions since 1995.
begin quote But one of the advantages of comics is that you're drawing frame after frame after frame, so almost in the background scenes you can create this atmosphere that's following the reader around, that doesn't necessarily relate to the foreground action but is somehow always present. For example, the way the buildings look—I can show that over and over again in the background, so in some ways I think you can really put the reader in that place, just with all these repeated images. If there's mud in the background, you can show that in every frame, so the mud is following the reader around. If you're a prose writer, really what you're doing is just mentioning it once, you're not going to keep mentioning it ever few lines—"and by the way, it was really muddy." So it's this constant reminder of what the place looks like. quote ends
In the meantime:
ToyViewer is free (as in napkins), and nimble Mac OS X (Snow Leopard compatible!) photo editor more capable than Preview and less intimidating than GraphicConverter.
Language Log, a delightful ongoing lesson in how snarky thoughtful linguists do meta, does a two-fer. It's a meditation on how quickly jargon words (like power and duration) lose their technical specificity and acquire their everyday meanings. Interesting in its own right, and we've all seen the parallel development of technical medical terms—moron, imbecile, schizophrenic—into casual epithets. PLUS the seed is a funny XCKD cartoon!
Wheelchair Dancer is an eloquent writer who makes art at the intersections of dance, disability, and race. She meditates here on a typically annoying New York Times piece:
begin quote Disability figures here in archetypal societally negative ways. We can't live actual physical lives, we live lives of the spirit and of the heart; our bodies are useless and broken. Disability is both a burden (sigh) and a passage to being a better human. No longer the rebel youth, Mr. Addison is now a societally useful person: a healer. And regardless of whether it is true that he lay on a slab in a morgue, does the story have to be one of rebirth -- rebirth into a crippled life that ultimately is his healing?
These are cliches. Broken. Useless. Spiritually barren cliches. How bad it is it? Well, what do people think? The NYT comments on this story are what you would expect -- of the "oh, this is so beautiful, so inspiring type." People know how to read this stuff. Ms. Jones even becomes an "angel" (Commenter #46). This is the danger of writing this story in the way that Ms. Jones does. It's an exoticized "chicken soup for the soul" memoir (my phrase). As a writer, Ms. Jones has a responsibility to do better. quote ends
I first read Wheelchair Dancer as a guest poster in the fabulous Rethinking Walking at Flipflopping Joy. Where the most recent item is a thoughtful and necessary shout-back to the Ken Burns 8-hours-of-nature-porn series that's just concluded on PBS.
begin quote And knowing [passing details of Native objections, exploitation of Japanese and Chinese workers] made it easier for me to deal with. Easier for me to just glory in the story telling and admire the nature porn.
But then last night, FOUR NIGHTS into the series, I find out that these little epicenters of light and DEMOCRACY—these pantheons of joy and DEMOCRACY, these schools of enlightened thinking and DEMOCRACY—were actually racially segregated until at least the late 1930s.
Overall—I am really glad that he made the series. I’ll even watch it again. He makes a compelling argument against unfettered capitalism that I think many mainstream liberals really desperately need to hear. …
He’s used his privilege and his power to put the environment and a different way to understand masculinity, public service and nationalism on the table.
Teeniest of summaries: Patricia Wrede publishes YA novel imagining Europeans colonizing an empty America, because nobody ever crossed the northern land bridge so there aren't any indigenous people here. Jo Walton talks about it with her on Tor.com. Readers of color (and allies) voice their concerns. Fail begins. Then *sob* Lois McMaster Bujold drops her pants.
Anyway, in response, Yeloson issues a call for fans of color to speak their names on this thread on the Dead Bro Walking community. (While membership in that comm is closed, anyone can comment on the thread.) Five pages of folks chiming in, the last time I looked.
Before you follow that link, take a gander at this picture of the current court members. Eight "white" guys, one African-American, and one tiny white woman. They all look well-nourished; Scalia and Thomas are broader than your average football player, and probably that's not due to 5 hours a day of physical training. It does seem that the current court plays havoc with one's hair--only the youngest, Chief Justice Roberts, has a full head.
Found more reason to read Margo Lanagan, was enthralled by Anna Tambour's mediations:
Another observation, this one garnered from my recent trip to the asteroid *. The *ians are voracious readers. With their one taste-organ orifice, they consume books with a sound that, if you're not born there, takes some getting used to -- and they consume so many books so fast, that *ian authors must imbibe inspiration in some way inhumanly possible as they work without rest, coffee or praise -- for on asteroid * there is an inverse of the Earth ratio of fiction writers to readers. With nothing else to eat on *, fiction production isn't an aspirational profession, just as cooking isn't for the majority of people who end up doing the cooking on Earth. The most popular theme in *ian sf/f today is visits to Earth and interactions with the dominants there, uh, here: iron atoms. The plots of *ish books are fast and nutritious; but unlike power drinks on our planet, *ish books are packed full of everything delicious --plot, emotion, character -- betwixt *lings and these iron atom earthlings (with a smattering of other species they imagine on our planet, but I think some sort of taboo against featuring other species from their asteroid). I'm no reviewer, so I'll just say simply: I love these books. But *ian sf/f has some guidelines that might be universal today. No cats, no puns, and certainly no fluffy kittens. They've had those guidelines since the Pure Fiction Act of 1.9908 eons ago -- which means that Lewis Carroll is still banned on *.
and amused by Hal Duncan's forthright:
This is where you get all those claims you see that it's "gone too far", that the Draconian decrees of a "PC thought-police" are forcing the poor writer to self-censor, or even exerting a pressure that's tantamount to censorship in its own right.
The argument is bollocks. It's a straw man argument belied by the reality. Paedophilia is abhorrent. Fascism is abhorrent. But if you tackle those subjects you're more likely to be lauded for it than reviled for breaching the taboo -- assuming you're approaching them as topics rather than just expressing some fucked-up personal freakery. If you do find it harder to get some Nazi kiddy porn story published, it's going to be because of the ethics of advocacy, not a taboo that simply prescribes representation. It's about how you address those subjects, not whether you address them at all. People berating you for writing Magic Negroes or Mandingos, Castrating Bitches or Depraved Faggots -- that's not censorship. Not being able to find a buyer for Nazi kiddy porn bullshit is not a free speech issue. The imperative being applied here is to treat the subject well, not to avoid it completely. It's not about taboos.
Mmmm, sf/lit-crit smoothie!
ETA: Can't resist adding Jo Walton's meditations on explicit swearing in SF.
My favorite four posts (today)
asim's exploration of MLK's radical rhetoric and its relevance to the matters at hand.
pats_quinade's side-splitting Onion News Network rundown (complete with Stargate Atlantis references):: You Can't Spell RaceFail without "I".
sparkymonster's incisive summary RaceFail, Silence and Words demonstrates yet again her deft ability to make the reader think and then sprinkle them with an exquisite link assortment.
miriam_heddy ponders where the tipping point is: if fans of color are disrespected, that may be too bad but a distant issue; when a white fan's privacy is threatened, then it becomes "real."
ETA: For anyone who doesn't understand the weariness many people feel re: these issues of privilege, power, and oppression in fandom, rydra_wong's two years of link spam on these topics is enlightening.
As the Brits put in their captions:
NPR's useful series The York Project: Race & The '08 Vote follows a roundtable of 13 diverse voters from Pennsylvania. They talk about race—principally, their fears on the topic.
The reporters set up a long-term relationship, in hopes of moving beyond the animosity, silence & nonsense that is certain to accompany initial conversations about race. They're on the right path. The honesty on display in the series is stunning.
From their introduction
And since we wanted to make sure our voters got comfortable, we began our discussion with comfort food. Thirteen voters from York and the surrounding suburbs joined us for dinner. Our producers had carefully selected a group that loosely represented York's demographics: young and old; Democrats, Republicans and independents. We thought it was a fairly random group, but once we got into the room, it turned out there were all kinds of connections.
The real estate agent and the high school drama teacher had a school connection. The lawyer remembered the law enforcement officer who used to visit his high school for anti-drug presentations. The former factory worker and the seamstress had a common acquaintance. Such is life in a fairly small city.
It's the "all kinds of connections" that make the conversation so important: we may not often be neighbors (given persistent redlining) but we do live in webs of community.
Particularly useful are the reporters' meditations on the meaning of their own race. Here's Steve Inskeep, who's White:
When race does come up among white people, in my experience, it's easy for people to say a handful of safe things and then stop talking about this dangerous subject. If you're white, there is a formula for you to follow. First, you reflect on your youth. You note that, for whatever reason, you were brought up in a home without prejudice. You may offer an anecdote about how your mother believed in civil rights or how you, yourself, stood up for a black kid in school. Finally, you report that you try to see people according to what's inside them, just as your family taught you.Michelle Norris, who's Black, recounts her personal experiences with hard-core, totally unsubtle racism, then reflects:
Our conversations in York have me wondering about those men on the sidewalk. I wonder what they would say about this election year if they were included in our conversations. So often, discussions about race are driven by people who chaffed under restrictive laws or customs. The "success despite oppression" narrative is quite common in politics and film and business. Less common — or perhaps more muted — are the contemporary viewpoints of people who enforced, enjoyed or evolved past the point of assumed white privilege.I've sometimes discounted the thoughtless privilege brandished in online discussions, assuming that those who post them are the exceptional case. This radio series brought me up short, because it ain't just the net, folks.